Sunday, February 24, 2013

BASS DESIRES RUN THROUGH MADHOUSE

PATIENT: DEANNA LEPSCH
ILLNESS: WRITER


When did you start writing? Why did you pick the genre you write it?

I started writing at a young age, mostly poetry. I didn't start writing fiction until college when I had a terrible experience with a boy. I've always said writing is a way to exercise my demons and he-who-shall-remain-nameless helped me realize it. At the time, I'd say my fiction was very centered on literary mainstream. Since then, my main genre focus is on Romance and Science Fiction (sometimes together, sometimes not.)

 
Where you get your ideas from? Do you journal at all?

My ideas come from everywhere but they are most often tied to music or lyrics. I take a healthy amount of my ideas from my crazy dreams and from asking myself a lot of "what if" questions.

 
Whats a normal (writing) day like for you?

Monday through Friday I write for a minimum of 2.5 hours or 1.5k words (whichever comes first) as soon as I am finished working the evil day job. On Saturdays and Sundays I try to leave the house by 8 and I'm gone until noon or 1 depending on how much other work I have to do (emails, blog posts, etc.). I always write in coffee shops, bookstores, or bars--if I stay home, the pressure to clean or do laundry or pet my dogs is too much and I get nothing on the page.

 
Favorite author or book? Who are you currently reading?

I have so many favorites. My all-time favorite is Douglas Adams. He blends brilliance with the silly flawlessly. I aspire to that. I also LOVE Gail Carriger, Maria V Snyder, James Dashner, Rick Riordan, Mercedes Lackey. I'm currently reading something steampunk but I'm not sure if I like it so the author and book shall remain a mystery.

Do you prefer writing poetry or prose? Why one over the other?

I find writing prose more enjoyable but writing poetry more satisfying. If that makes sense.

Do you write in silence or with noise (tv, movies, music)?

Not only do I need music to write, but I need the hustle and bustle of a public place as additional background noise and visual distraction.

Do you have any weird habits when it comes to writing?  Do you type or write longhand?

Besides needing to write somewhere other than my office? Not really. I prefer writing on a computer rather than long hand. I hate having to transfer words from paper to word doc.
 
Would you consider yourself a Plotter or a Pantser?

I'm a Pantser who wants desperately to be a plotter. I do both. I try and create an outline in a basic form that can guide and keep me on track. Inevitably, my characters start doing what they want about 40 pages in and the outline is out the window.

What do you think is the hardest aspect of the craft?

Translating what is so clear in my head into some sort of murky watered down word version on the page. Sometimes if all flows beautifully but most of the time it's painful and a little gross. Kind of like a really gooey sneeze.

Current projects?

Currently writing an adventure novel that I call a jaunt through my psyche. I foresee these characters encountering all things wonderful and frightening on their journey. It's been a blast to write so far. I am also editing a contemporary romance about a rock band and a writer called Bass Desires and hope to have that one finished soon.

How do you balance being an editor and being a writer? (Or double jobs, being a mom/dad, etc.- apply to your situation)

Precariously at best. To write full time, I've had to sacrifice personal time with the hubs and friends. I struggle with balance.

What do you think people expect from you with your writing?  EX: Can they always count on a good gross out?

You can always expect strong relationships in my books. I'm not talking about a romance, though that's often present. I'm talking about interpersonal relationships with family, friends, protagonist/antagonist, etc. Relationships, to me, are what make people interesting and make a book worth reading.

Advice for aspiring writers?

Ass in chair, fingers on keyboard. If you want to be a writer, stop talking about the future and do it already. You can't be a writer if you don't WRITE.

Bio: Deanna Lepsch is a jack-of-all-trades, writer/editor extraordinaire, and artsy-fartsy entrepreneur.  Her current focus is on developing her YA adventure romance white editing her work in progress. When she's not writing, she's sewing, modeling, tweeting, brewing and tasting beer. You can read about her adventures in brewing at www.inveteratemediajunkies.com. Deanna was a contributing writer and co-editor to the Hazard Yet Forward Anthology and is an editor for Dog Star Books.

Monday, February 18, 2013

WICKED (NEW)MAN IN THE MADHOUSE

 
PATIENT: JAMES NEWMAN
ILLNESS: WRITER
 
 
When did you start writing? Why did you pick the genre you write in?
According to my parents, I've been making up stories as long as I could hold a pen. And -- surprise, surprise -- most of them were "spooky stuff". I've always been infatuated with monsters and madmen. I remember when I was growing up my Mom and Dad were fans of a good horror film, and they were never too protective about what they'd let my sister and I watch (my mom was the one who recommended RE-ANIMATOR to me when I was just 15 or 16, for God's sake!), so I guess that's what warped me. Once I discovered Stephen King not long after that, there was no turning back.
 
Where do you get your ideas? Do you journal at all?
I subscribe to a very, very expensive service that not many folks know about. A sealed black envelope is delivered to my house once a month when the moon is full. It's stuffed fat with ideas for struggling writers. It gives me what I need, although it takes so much in return...

Seriously though? I have no idea. Life. The things I see around me every day. The horrible things people do to one another. I guess those are all valid answers to the question, "Where do you get your ideas."

I don't journal, although occasionally I'll pull out a spiral notebook and scribble something-anything- in it just to get myself in the "zone." It's a great way to break writer's block.
 
What’s a normal (writing) day like for you?
Scattershot. I have no real "routine". I admit that I don't even write every day. I just squeeze it in whenever I can, between my day job and family. I wish I were more prolific, but that's what works for me.
 
Favorite author or book? Who are you currently reading?
My favorite writer is Joe R. Lansdale. My all-time favorite book is Robert R. McCammon's BOY'S LIFE.
    
At the moment I'm reading a ton of stuff. I always read too much at one time. That's probably why it takes me forever to finish anything these days. I'll never learn.
Anyway, here's what's in my "Currently Reading" stack right now: GIRL TROUBLE by Holly Goddard Jones, THE SECRET OF ANATOMY by Mark Morris, THE FEVER KILL by Tom Picirrilli, THE CIRCLE by Bentley Little, FLIGHTS OF FEAR by Graham Masterton, and BLACKBIRDS by Chuck Wendig.
     
Yeah.
 
Do you prefer writing poetry or prose? Why one over the other?
Definitely prose. I've never been a poetry fan at all. Except for the work of Stephanie Wytovich, of course. :)
 
Do you write in silence or with noise (tv, movies, music)?
It depends on my mood. When I'm editing I don't really care what's on in the background but when creating new words I prefer either silence or movie-soundtrack stuff. I usually listen to hard rock or heavy metal any other time, but I find it a little too distracting when I'm writing. I prefer something moody, instrumental. A few favorites include the soundtrack to THE TERMINATOR, John Carpenter's CHRISTINE, and Trent Reznor's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. I recently picked up the scores for SINISTER and THE BOOK OF ELI. Good stuff.
 
Do you have any weird habits when it comes to writing? Do you type or write longhand?
No weird habits. Chewing my nails, maybe. But I do that all the time. Such a nasty habit. I'd strongly advise against anyone picking it up.
     
I type 99% of the the time. However, I've found that writing longhand -- as I said before -- can be a great way to beat writer's block (and stay away from the Internet!). I've struggled for weeks at a time with plot points, stuff that I can't seem to work out and it feels like I've painted myself into a corner . . . but then I pick up a pen and start scribbling in a spiral notebook, and I can't even remember why it was so daunting. The scenes just pour right out of me. So I do enjoy longhand for "problem-solving". I've heard other writers say the same thing, that a change in medium can really "unclog the pipes", so to speak.
 
Would you consider yourself a Plotter or a Pancer?
I'm usually a plotter. I don't really "outline", per se -- for the most part, I just put together a loose bullet-points list of scenes from start to finish, but the details are subject to change at any time.
    
There are always exceptions, though. I didn't do a lot of that with the novel I'm wrapping up now. I wanted to try this one with no safety belt, just start writing and see where the characters led me. It's been a little scary, but it hasn't killed me yet. Although I do think it might be the main reason this novel has taken me about five times longer to write than most.
 
What do you think is the hardest aspect of the craft?
I'm a perfectionist. I agonize over every word, every turn of phrase, every sentence. And then I agonize some more. It's not rare for me to spend days laboring over a single page. Obviously, that's a problem. These days, it's gotten to the point where I'm sure it's holding me back. Slowing things down. Killing any momentum I might have built up not only in the current project I'm working on but also my career as a whole.
     
I'm desperately trying to figure out how to fix that. I haven't yet.
 
Current projects?
I'm putting the finishing touches on a novel called UGLY AS SIN. I can't wait to unleash this one upon the world. It's been the most fun I've had with anything I've ever written, so if it's half as fun for my fans to read then I've done my job.
    
UGLY AS SIN is a tale of "white trash noir" in the vein of Joe R. Lansdale, a story about a former professional wrestler who is horribly disfigured after two psychotic rednecks kidnap and torture him because they believe his "heel" persona is real. And that's just the first 10 pages. ;)
 
How do you balance being a writer and being a family man?
It's not always easy. Like I said, I don't write every day. I wish I could say I did. I probably write more with the sound of my 3-year-old pitching a fit in the background than I write to peace and quiet. I should have mentioned that before, instead of the movie scores -- my 3-year-old's temper tantrums are the soundtrack to my writing time, more often than not.
All joking aside, my family is very supportive. My wife puts up with a lot from me, God bless her. She'll usually tend to the toddler as long as she knows I'm hard at work actually WRITING, and not wasting time on FaceTwitter.
 
What do you think people expect from you with your writing?
I'd like to think they just expect a good story. Nothing fancy, and pretension-free. That's me.
Remember how Stephen King used to say his work was the "literary equivalent of a Big Mac", or something to that effect? I reckon that'd make mine a few greasy chili-fries.
 
Advice for aspiring writers?
Never give up. Grow a thick skin. Not everybody is gonna love your work. Some will actually hate it. Decide -- to keep yourself sane -- that those who don't like it must have their heads screwed on wrong. That's not necessarily true, of course, but it doesn't stop you from thinking it. Nobody has to know. Edit. Tighten. Trim the fat. Don't ever be BORING. Read your work ALOUD before you release it upon the world -- trust me, you'll be glad you did.
 
List your most recent publication(s).
 
 
 
My novels THE WICKED and MIDNIGHT RAIN are now available in trade paperback, from Shock Totem Publications and Evil Jester Press, respectively. Check 'em out, please, and I always love to hear from readers: newmanjam@gmail.com
 
 
 
BIO: James Newman's published works include the novels MIDNIGHT RAIN, THE WICKED, and ANIMOSITY, and the collection PEOPLE ARE STRANGE. A short film adaptation is currently in the works for his fan-favorite novella "Holy Rollers".
When James isn't writing, he enjoys listening to loud rock n' roll and watching Tar Heels basketball. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Glenda, and their two sons. One is a toddler, the other a teenager . . . and you think you know horror?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

WYTOVICH FINDS HAND-CARVED COFFINS IN HIGDON'S CELL


PATIENT: SHELDON HIGDON
ILLNESS: WRITER
 
When didyou start writing? Why did you pick the genre you write it?

Started in second grade with a mystery story called “Who’s Been Stealing theClothes?”  Catchy, huh? Me and the otherstudents got to make up our own stories, illustrate them, and then bound themwith construction paper. I still have my story to this day. But it was fromthis moment I started writing.

Stephen Kingwas asked once why he chose horror to write. Why did he pick it? So to borrow,and to possibly paraphrase, from him I’ll give the same reply: “Who says I hada choice?”

But ingeneral I write whatever genre my brain and heart pushes me to write. Horror,YA, thriller, suspense, mystery and even some literary pieces. Why limityourself? Gotta push the boundaries, challenge yourself. Expand. But there is adarkness that underlies most of my work.  

Where you get your ideas from? Do you journal at all?

My ideas come from everywhere, really. Not one place, although, personalexperiences trump the others. The trick is figuring out how you're going to usethe ideas, real life moments, and which to use for what.

I don'tjournal. I probably should though.

What’s a normal (writing) day like for you?

Normal used to be throughout the day. Now, it's about four hours at night.

Favorite author or book? Who are you currently reading?

As a teen I had favorite authors. Kind of like having best friends. As you growolder you outgrow the best friend thing and just have lots of good friends. SoI don't have favorite authors anymore. Not that I don't buy everything by acertain author or authors, because I do. But that's because they're reliableand good. Their work hardly disappoints. But basically, I read everyone andanything no matter if it's genre or nonfiction or literary.

Currently,I’m reading two books. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien and Great IrishTales of Horror: A Treasury of Fear, edited by Peter Haining.

Do you prefer writing poetry or prose? Why one over the other?

I mostly write prose but I've written poetry and have had it published. As ateen who wore black and listened to the “Devil's music”---that inferno heavymetal and/or punk---I wrote tons of poetry. Still have it. It even garnered mea trip to the counselor's office.

So I writeboth just more prose.

Do you write in silence or with noise (tv, movies, music)?

I gotta have music blaring into my ears. Ear buds in, music roaring.

Do you have any weird habits when it comes to writing? Do you type or writelonghand?

No weird habits. Unless doing the hokey pokey between chapters is a weirdhabit.

There was atime, long ago, I wrote longhand. Now, I only write longhand when making notes,etc. But I do want to start getting back to longhand. Write a novella that way.It'd be more organic experience. A thoughts-to-the-page thing. A single thought,if you will. Typing on the laptop is a stop and go process for me. Likechickens pecking at feed.

Would you consider yourself a Plotter or a Pancer?

I'm definitely a pancer. Outlines are foreign to me. But I'm trying to outline.I need some structure but only to a degree. I'm more into sightseeing thansticking to the roadmap.

What do you think is the hardest aspect of the craft?

Getting past the brick wall two-thirds of the way through.

Current projects?

Finishing up my thesis (novel) for my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction at SetonHill University.

Advice for aspiring writers?

Write more, talk less.
 
Upcoming Publications?
My storyEnter the Sand Man will be appearing in an upcoming anthology called Madhouse.
 
BIO: Sheldon Higdon is an author with numerous publications in various magazines and books. Everything from short stories to non-fiction articles to poetry.  He is also an award-winning screeenwriter.
He is currently working toward his MFA in creative writing in Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction program

Monday, February 4, 2013

PATIENT BOSCO BRINGS WERECATS INTO MADHOUSE


PATIENT: SALLY BOSCO
ILLNESS: WRITER AND WERECAT

How to Find Your Muse by Writing the Book You Love
By Sally Bosco

People talk about finding their muse, like it’s an outside thing, like some person or sprite will come along, and suddenly they'll be all inspired. I tend to think of it as contacting the source of my own inner creativity. One way I do this is to make sure that what I’m working on is something I love.

A few years ago I decided that I was going to write only books I loved, books I’d actually buy if I saw them online or in a book store. I wanted to start each day looking forward to working on this particular book. I think I had always done that to some extent, but more recently I decided to make a concerted effort of it. Here’s what I did. I answered these questions for myself:

The first and most obvious question is, what is my favorite genre?
To me, that’s a tough one because I like to read in a wide variety of genres. I like anything from literary to horror to paranormal, sometimes adult, sometimes young adult. I like the story to have romance elements, but I don’t like straight-up romance novels most of the time. I had to figure out what combination of these genres I wanted to pursue. My writers’ voice runs to young adult, and I vary between mainstream with a literary bent to horror. It turns out that I’ve written lots of variations on the above.

What are some of my favorite books and why? Make a list.
Take a good hard look at what you like to read and figure out why. Incorporate those elements in your writing. Like I mentioned earlier, my reading has been very eclectic. I like the simple elegance of Ernest Hemingway and the moody Gothic prose of Ann Rice. I like the ambiguity of Jeanette Winterson and the inventiveness of Neil Gaiman. Try to encompass some of those elements in your story.

What kinds of elements do you like to read in a story? Make a list.
Break down your favorite novels into component parts. When you’re reading someone else’s story, what elements really grab you? I like to have some form of experimentation, but sometimes experimental elements can be gimmicky. To avoid that, I like to use something that is different or not usually done. For example, my current work-in-progress, Poisonous Garden, is told from the point of view of a person of indeterminable gender. So you need to figure out what elements you like best in a story and use those.

What elements do I love to write about? Make a list.
What are your favorite things? My general list is: doppelgangers, road trips, sleazy diners, dark mysterious outdoor spaces, houses or rooms that change shape, alternate dimensions, gender identity such as cross-dressers, and shape shifters. For each new novel I write, I come up with a list of key words I’d like to work into the story. The end goal is making sure I’m writing a story that I’ll love, that I would want to read. In Zen and the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury said to make a list of the things you love and hate and write about those. Great advice.

What’s the story I want to write?
Try to form some plots from the above-mentioned questions. Don’t be afraid to brainstorm crazy ideas.  I usually make lots of lists of ideas. Some may turn into novels and some short stories. Most sit there for years and all of a sudden one of them will speak to me. Keep a file on your laptop or phone of story ideas that you’re always adding to. Choose one and start developing it, using your lists of favorite elements and key words.

How can I make sure it stays the story I want to write?
Too often in the past, the stories I’ve written have run-off-the-rails into something I didn’t really like. For me, the remedy to this is careful outlining to ensure that the story goes in the direction I want it to. I know that for some people that wrecks their spontaneity, but for me it works. I recommend Blake Snyder’s book, Save the Cat for an outlining process.

How do you contact your muse?

Sally Bosco (SallyBosco.com) writes dark fiction. She is inexplicably drawn to the Uncanny, the shades of gray between the light and dark, the area where your mind hovers as you’re falling off to sleep. She loves writing young adult fiction because she strongly relates to teenage angst, the search for self-identity and the feelings of being an outsider.

Her published novels include:
AltDeath.com, Shadow Cat (written as Zoe LaPage, her adult alter-ego), and The Werecat Chronicles, and she was a contributor to Many Genres, One Craft. She’s had short stories published in literary magazines and anthologies, including the Small Bites anthology and most recently Hazard Yet Forward. She has an MFA degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.

Web page:
http://sallybosco.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.bosco.3
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SallyBosco